Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Dump Quayle in '92? Not Likely

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Dump Quayle in '92? Not Likely

Article excerpt

IF you want to start an argument in Washington just say something nice about Dan Quayle. Mention that when he was a senator his neighbors liked him - that he was always modest and companionable. Remind his critics that back in Indiana, where the people know him best, Mr. Quayle is quite popular. They will snort.

This is not just political opposition. It is utter contempt for a man who is perceived as a weak sister, someone lacking in the backbone needed in the presidency.

Remind you of anyone? Vice President Bush was suffering from a similar, widespread perception (particularly among Democrats) right up until he was nominated. Indeed, Mr. Bush never really lost his wimpish image in the eyes of many of his detractors until he showed his mettle in the war in the Gulf.

Bush, of course, was never a wimp. He'd had a heroic World War II record. Now he has emerged as he always has been: strong, resolute, courageous.

Quayle is, as they say, no George Bush - not when war records are compared. Quayle found a safe refuge in the National Guard during the Vietnam war. That's a record he will have a hard time living down. But he did go into the military. And how many among his critics were themselves escaping that unpopular war by extending their years or their sons' years in college?

I was recently reminded in the illustrated history, "The Civil War," that "The fathers of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt paid substitutes. So did Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan and two future presidents, Chester A. Arthur and Grover Cleveland."

This is not cited to excuse people of wealth and privilege for finding a way out of military service. It is just to suggest that precedent doesn't show that Quayle's war record is a bar, of itself, to the presidency.

That's what is bothering a lot of people, mainly Democrats, but many Republicans too: that Dan Quayle might become president someday. They want Bush to drop him in '92. Some observers even say they see it happening. They're wrong.

A new Gallup Poll is instructive on this point. …

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